Gartner says “Predictions for 2013 are 21.6 billion apps sold for a total of $29.5 billion revenue. 25 percent of the revenue generated by mobile applications will be from free versions, supported by advertising”
Technology convergence has made the mobile phones as not just “phones” anymore with only voice and SMS features. Next to the PC and Internet revolution, the viral spread of mobile technology will have a dramatic impact on the lives of individuals and institutions. Convergence of internet and telecommunication technologies is increasing rapidly. We are at the age of mobility which is providing us the freedom of being independent of time and place.
The Mobile Eco System:
The eco system is closely bound with sensitivity to changes for each actor responses. Typically the mobile platform based solutions are initiated by three major actors:
1. Enterprises: Mobile Applications for their customers, sales force and other stakeholders
2. Individuals: Individuals with mobile solutions ideas and concept and collaborate with technology/marketing organization to commercialize their concepts
3. Independent Software Vendors: Organizations with IT related capabilities with expertise in mobile based technologies. They have capabilities to create concepts and technology/marketing bandwidth to commercialize their initiatives.
The technology ecosystem is predominantly driven or controlled by device manufacturers and their relevance in the market. Device operators control the application market via application stores. Some of the major differentiating factors across providers include:
2. UI (user interface) differences and controls
3. Availability of applications in app. stores
4. Developer friendly SDK’s
5. Upgrade and maintenance aspect
The developer ecosystem is affected by the changes around the factors highlighted above. Varied operating system limits their option to port their solutions unlike a quick fix that can be done in PC platforms.
Though there are many players in the mobile application ecosystem, developers play a vital role and impact majority of other stakeholders. The strategies have to be planned around the technology limitations and options unlike the conventional PC paradigm.
From developer perspective, some of the key challenges are:
Diverging Technology Options:
In the conventional software programming scenarios, developers have multiple options for development languages, such as C, .NET, Java, etc. to create a software application. However, in the progress of mobile application development, due to complex structure of mobile ecosystem, there is a fragmentation in terms of different development languages and developer platforms.
Dependency on Devices/Operator trends:
Mobile phones have shorter life-cycle and new models with upgraded features keep flooding the market. With the upgraded OS, different providers and devices provide multiple options to the users and they differ technically from end user perspective as well. Different device models support different functionalities, such as location identifier, gravity censors, camera flash, etc. Hardware performances also vary between devices. In addition to that, some applications need to support external device functionalities.
Typical Development Life Cycle Challenges:
Typical to any product development life cycle, building a solution on a mobile platform goes through multiple phases. The conversion of any idea into a commercial product involves multiple stages and converting an idea into a concept is a vital phase. The concept involves a blueprint of the solution approach where the technical limitations are not taken considerations. The evaluation of technical platforms in terms of phone OS are done during technical implementation stage. Typical product development challenges:
1. Quick to market trade-off with other factors due to high competition
2. Ability to accommodate the delay between getting a new technology to market and getting it well-adopted from financial perspective
3. Market dynamics scanning and continuous iteration
4. Concept to product conversion on a solid technical architecture and scalable solution framework
5. Productization than project orientation
From Challenges to Opportunities
The spirit of entrepreneurship and enterprising opportunities lies in negotiating challenges and converting them into opportunities. The technology challenges with mobile platforms is throwing many innovations and opportunities to convert your ideas to commercial products.
1. Platform portable solutions: Cross-platform application development enables maximum market reach in the mobile software ecosystem. Since mass market applications are developed to target broad range of consumers using different mobile devices and thus different mobile operating systems, cross-platform application development is the best way to embrace the largest market share of application users.
2. Mange OS version dependencies and upgrades by diligent packaging and distribution
3. Orient towards OS than market trends on devices
4. Adapt innovative development life cycle with more focus towards testing and test marketing. The surprises are more towards the final stages.
5. Mange product life cycle efficiently by identifying specific phase requirements